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Scott Howard-Cooper

Don Nelson
Golden State coach Don Nelson is still waiting to find out if he'll be coaching the Warriors this season.
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Wild offseason of changes anything but over for Warriors

Posted Sep 21 2010 8:20AM - Updated Oct 1 2010 2:35PM

The offseason in the Bay Area won't even be over when it's over. That's the real perspective.

Training camp will start, the exhibition schedule will start, and perhaps finish, and then the regular season will be anxiously close to starting. And after all that, it's somewhere between possible and likely that the Warriors' summer business will still not be complete.

There is no way to accurately assess the offseason moves of a franchise that still does not know the outcome of one of its biggest intersection moments in years (and maybe decades), but this much is certain: they have never been through anything like the last four months ... because few teams have.

The team was sold. The continued employment of the winningest coach in NBA history and the general manager are in question and may not be resolved until late October. Ekpe Udoh was drafted on June 24 and then, about three weeks later, it was learned he could be out until midseason with a wrist injury.

Reversing Fortunes's experts review the teams that didn't make the playoffs last season and what they'll need to do to avoid the Lottery next season.
Date Team
Sept. 14 Houston Rockets
Sept. 15 Memphis Grizzlies
Sept. 16 New Orleans Hornets
Sept. 17 L.A. Clippers
Sept. 20 Toronto Raptors
Sept. 21 Golden State Warriors
Sept. 22 Sacramento Kings
Sept. 23 Minnesota Timberwolves
Sept. 24 Indiana Pacers
Sept. 27 Detroit Pistons
Sept. 28 Philadelphia 76ers
Sept. 29 Washington Wizards
Sept. 30 New Jersey Nets
Oct. 1 New York Knicks

They invested $80 million over six years on All-Star David Lee and dealt one-time untouchable Anthony Randolph to the Knicks in the sign-and-trade deal to get Lee. And finally, Stephen Curry got the valuable experience of playing for Team USA in the World Championship.

This is supposed to be a bottom-line read on the offseason? No problem. Wrap up the Golden State vacation with a tidy bow and work out pi to the final digit.

There can be no bottom line until the tipping-point moment of Joe Lacob and Peter Gruber closing on the announced $450 million purchase of the team and deciding whether to keep coach Don Nelson and GM Larry Riley. That's an offseason call in the ideal Lacob/Guber world. The actual timing in the real world doesn't allow for it, though.

The decision will have to come after the expected final approval of the sale from the Board of Governors late in the preseason. That causes a bad calendar break which will force the new owners to change direction a week or two before opening night or stay with Nelson as a lame duck in what he insists will be his final season.

The ownership change is at the core of so much that will determine the next directional shift. Riley has remained aggressive amid the uncertainty, just as he has in the past. He worked long on an Amar'e Stoudemire deal that fizzled the night of the 2009 Draft. He has spent part of this summer trying to get the Warriors near the top of the call sheet once the Nuggets decide to open Carmelo Anthony trade talks. He also managed to land Lee.

That would have been a bold move anyway, just because of the money involved. Then Golden State went beyond that, by spending the $80 million about two weeks after taking Udoh (a power forward, like Lee) with the No. 6 pick and by dealing Randolph and his tantalizing potential.

Many of the Warriors' roster moves have signaled a move toward a hard-hat mentality, possibly as a complement to the high-octane backcourt of Curry and Monta Ellis and definitely an attempt to address finishing last in the league in rebounding percentage. In a telling sign, the Warriors gave scrapper Louis Amundson a reported two-year, $5 million deal, marking the third offseason power forward pickup. A healthy return by center Andris Biedrins, a double-double man two seasons ago before being derailed by injury in 2009-10, would be another boost.

"We have changed the personality of the team," Riley said.

That was one of his offseason priorities -- give the Warriors more grit. So was putting the Warriors in position to become players for a major acquisition, whether via free agency next summer -- labor peace willing -- or in a swap before the February trade deadline.

The expiring contract of Dan Gadzuric was acquired from the Bucks as part of the package for the bloated contract of Corey Maggette. Vladimir Radmanovic, also in the final season of his deal, is in play, providing Golden State with approximately $14.1 million in combined expiring deals. There was no bidding war to keep perimeter weapon Anthony Morrow from signing with the Nets, and Riley wouldn't out-spend the Bulls to keep C.J. Watson or give Anthony Tolliver (now in Minnesota) a qualifying offer.

It left the Warriors very thin, particularly in a backcourt that lost Kelenna Azubuike in the Lee trade, but with improved cap flexibility. How much spending power they'll have is an unknown because the Collective Bargaining Agreement will be renovated before the next round of free agency. What Riley said is known, or at least strongly implied, is that incoming majority owner Lacob is willing to use the available space, as opposed to holding on to the money as savings.

Strongly implied?

"I haven't really discussed that with them," Riley said.

That would seem like an important discussion.

"I haven't said, 'Will you spend this money?' because he's come to me as an enthusiastic owner whose priority is winning," Riley said. "I don't see this as an operation that will be looking to cut back."

He said it with a certainty, as if there has been some conversation, even if it could not have been an official talk because Lacob has not yet closed on the sale.

"I think you could say I have a strong feeling on that issue," Riley said.

He expects to be able to spend. In the meantime, it is another issue caught in the gears of the awkward timing of the ownership change in an offseason that hasn't ended. It won't even be over when it's over.

From 2009-10

Under Contract: G Charlie Bell, C Andris Biedrins, G Stephen Curry, G Monta Ellis, C Dan Gadzuric, F Reggie Williams, F Brandan Wright

Free Agents: F Devean George (unrestricted), C Chris Hunter (restricted), F Vladimir Radmanovic (ETO)

Players Added

NBA Draft: Ekpe Udoh
Free Agents: G Jeremy Lin, F Dorell Wright, G/F Rodney Carney, F Louis Amundson

Trades: G Charlie Bell, C Dan Gadzuric, C David Lee

Players Lost

Free Agents: G C.J. Watson, F Anthony Tolliver
Trades: F Corey Maggette, F Kelenna Azubuike, F Anthony Randolph, C Ronny Turiaf, G Anthony Morrow

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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